Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is characterized by muscle rigidity, hand tremors and slowing of movement. Many people with Parkinson’s disease in its more advanced stages also have impaired balance, a stiff facial expression, shuffling gait, muffled speech, and small, cramped handwriting. Some experience memory loss, others struggle with disease-induced depression

Parkinson’s disease affects over one million Americans and ten million people worldwide. Every year, approximately 60,000 people are diagnosed with this condition. Men are 1.5 times more likely to develop Parkinson’s than women. This can be a very debilitating disease. The cause of Parkinson’s is still not known. Researchers believe it is a combination of genetic and environmental factors. There are numerous ways you can help yourself if you have Parkinson’s and there is currently a great deal of research being conducted to find a cure.

Diagnosis: It often takes years before a person is finally diagnosed with Parkinson’s. A doctor will perform neurological testing and evaluate the history of the patient. As of yet there are no specific diagnostic tests for the disease. There is great effort being put forth to create a specific test. In the evaluation, a doctor will look for the following; limb stiffness, arm tremors and how quickly you can regain your balance. Testing can also include specialized imaging tests such as brain scanning. They will also determine if you perhaps have a different condition that has similar symptoms to Parkinson’s. For example this could include having had a stroke. Since this disease develops slowly over years, a person may only have partial symptoms that will increasingly become worse. Treatments are individualized and can include various prescription medicines. It depends on the actual symptoms present, the age of the patient and if there is any other preexisting conditions.

Causes

Genetic Link: Statistics indicate that approximately 25% of people with Parkinson’s have a family member with the disease. Research has looked at specific gene malfunctions that affect dopamine levels in the cells. They have found that many with Parkinson’s have these gene mutations. This is hopeful in finding an eventual cure. Lifestyle and environmental factors: There is some evidence that toxins may induce the development of Parkinson’s. For example, exposure to pesticides and various chemicals may contribute to the development of the disease.

Parkinson’s disease Cure

A cure has not been found but it is certainly on the horizon. Understanding the genetic and environmental components that cause dopamine in the cells to die is the question at hand. Treatments that can slow down or reverse this process are the hope of researchers. Parkinson’s research is a growing field and we will continue to see more advances.

Remember before undertaking any lifestyle or dietary changes always consult with your physician, particularly if you are taking any prescription drugs or are afflicted with any disease.

Good Nutrition: Whenever you are afflicted with any disease, good nutrition becomes even more important. A healthy, well balanced diet is helpful for Parkinson’s. This is because it will strengthen the immune system, give you more energy and help your medications work more effectively. Of course, the proper diet should always be addressed and prepared under the guidance of your personal physician. But some basic guidelines include eating a variety of fresh whole foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean proteins. Limit your sugar and salt intake and avoid saturated fats. Drink adequate amounts of fresh water daily.

Lifestyle and Exercise: Keeping a healthy weight is important. Find out what your ideal weight should be and try to stay within that range. Sometimes this disease causes people to be underweight. Work with your doctor to ensure that this is not the case. There are calorically dense supplements the doctor may recommend such as Ensure or Boost.